HCM CITY — The Ministry of Health and HCM City officials will work together to send medical staff and equipment to areas in the south to fight an outbreak of hand-foot-mouth disease.
Hua Ngoc Thuan, deputy chairman of the city's People's Committee, said staff would be sent to the provinces with the highest fatality and infection rates in order to treat the disease in its earliest stages.
The number of people infected with the disease rose sharply compared with last year, particularly in highly populated areas, said Thuan, who met with an inspection team led by Nguyen Thanh Long, deputy minister of health, last Friday.
A total of 1,351 people contracted the disease in HCM City so far this year, three times higher than the figure recorded in the same period last year, according to Pham Viet Thanh, director of the city's Department of Health. One person has died this year.
An average of 200 people are hospitalised every week in HCM City.
Tang Chi Thuong, director of Children's Hospital No1 in HCM City, said the poor competency of primary-care doctors as well as lack of essential medical equipment at community health facilities led to inappropriate treatment for patients.
In many cases, children with hand-foot-mouth disease were diagnosed as having pneumonia at district-level hospitals in southern provinces such as Vinh Long, Dong Thap and An Giang. They were later transferred to HCM City hospitals in serious condition.
Children's Hospital No 1 received more than 1,300 children with the disease, four times higher than last year's figure, he said, adding that two children from Tra Vinh and Soc Trang provinces died after they were transferred to the hospital in critical condition.
The disease has killed 11 people nationwide and more than 12,500 people have contracted the disease this year, seven times higher than last year.
Long has asked localities to strengthen the prevention and control of the disease among communities.
In a related matter, HCM City has reported three deaths due to dengue fever this year, and more than 2,000 people have contracted the disease, according to the city's Preventive Medicine Centre. — VNS